By SREEPARNA CHAKRABARTY
New Delhi: Despite widespread criticism of the Modi government’s handling of the rural employment guarantee scheme, there was some reason to cheer with the year 2016-17 seeing the largest number of women getting employment under MGNREGA, since the programme was launched by the UPA regime in 2006.
According to a three-year report card of the rural development ministry, under the flagship programme in the year 2016-17, a total of 5.04 crore households have been provided employment in 138.64 lakh works (projects), out of which 56 per cent have been generated for women — the highest participation of women since the programme started.
In 2015-16, 51 per cent of jobs went to women, in 2014-15, 50.23 per cent women got employment. The corresponding figures for 2013-14 and 2012-13 were 47.97 per cent and 47.03 per cent respectively.
A senior minsitry official told this newspaper that it was appreciable that women had achieved this number as there were earlier allegations of women being deprived of basic facilities at work sites.
The MGNREGA promises 100 days of employment every year to each rural household. The Act mandates that at least a third of the workers under the scheme should be women.
According to a study MGNREGA Sameeksha II — an anthology of research studies from 2012-2014 brought out by the UNDP in collaboration with the rural development ministry — there was a gender discrimination within the MGNREGA. It said women were excluded from the planning process and deprived of basic work-site facilities.
The recent document by the ministry goes on to say that as per the socio-economic caste census-2011, more than 5 crore households fall under the category of landless manual casual labour households.
Source: The Asian Age